Quick! Somebody alert the RedState Army Strike Force! Some serious Sarah Palin dissage is happening on Aisles 8, 9, and 12!!!
Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show last night featured a couple of Republican women -- A.B. Stoddard of The Hill, and "pro family" advocate Rebecca Hagelin -- discussing Sarah Palin's political future. Stoddard makes it clear that, inside the Beltway, Palin's star is rapidly dimming:
O'Reilly: There's no doubt that Governor Palin wants to run for president in 2012. I mean, there's just no doubt. She does. Does she have a legitimate chance:
Stoddard: I don't think so. I think she is a real political star, and I think that, would that it was just sincerity and passions and principle that got you there, she might have a chance. I think if you coupled her competence during the presidential campaign in 2008, the kind of competence that she showed, with the signals she has sent since that election these last couple of months in Alaska, I don't see her becoming a viable candidate in 2012. She's not endearing herself to the apparatus of the national Republican Party, as someone like Mitt Romney is, doing the hard work behind the scenes to help other candidates, members of Congress, et cetera, people in statehouses across the country.
Back in Alaska, I think she's also working hard to imperil her chances of getting reelected there next year in 2010, making Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature mad.
O'Reilly: By not accepting the stimulus money from D.C. Right? That's the big issue up there right now.
Stoddard: And not being there during the -- the Legislature closes up its business today, and in these last hours she went for a speaking engagement.
Of course, Hagelin sturdily denied that any of this was a problem. But these rumblings are becoming widespread:
"She's just not ready for prime time," said a party strategist who has worked for former President Bush. "I mean, she's starting to look like she's having trouble being governor of Alaska." At issue is her weak debut, hampered by the mishandling of her by Sen. John McCain's campaign, and subsequent family issues such as the most recent tiff with Levi Johnston, the father of her first grandchild and ex-fiancé of her daughter Bristol.
Since running for vice president with McCain, Palin has made efforts to be a national figure, starting a political action committee and speaking at national events in Washington. But she has also blown other chances, backed out of speech commitments, and allowed herself to be caught in a fight between state and national aides who have different roles for her in mind. While some Republican officials say that there is time for her to recover, many are already looking to others to carry the GOP flag, such as Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, in the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Mind you, her right-wing populism will continue to make her a major player in the GOP, especially now that the populists have taken over the conservative movement.
Indeed, Palin may become the candidate of choice for the populists -- who are nothing if not bellicose in their ostensible hatred for the Beltway Republicans -- in the coming months, considering that their main favorite, Ron Paul, is getting a tad long in the tooth. Which will mean they'll be openly pitted against the establishment GOP.
Palin vs. Romney. Pop some popcorn.